This past weekend, my dear friend and colleague, Lauren Weinhold, spent hours creating gorgeous centerpieces for an event we are organizing together. They are incredible and she volunteered her own time to put them together, eschewing offers from myself and others who would have been happy to assist. Lauren has a special talent for creative endeavors.
It’s not just this event that Lauren lends her gift to – she delivers elegance every time. It’s little things like complimentary breath mints in the company’s colors out on the tables, tablecloths perfectly fitted to the venue, fresh flowers placed around the room, unique cocktails crafted for the specific occasion. Her special touch just makes everything feel perfect and, as a result, guests feel the warmth and are honored to be there.
The same holds true for my pal, Erin Joy, a coach and consultant to women business owners. Hailing from St. Louis, Erin regularly organizes socials among interesting people. Recently, she told me she would be in my town, Kansas City, and planned to host a happy hour for women business owners. To my delight, she asked if I would like to co-host the get-together. You bet I said, “Yes!” From start to finish, Erin put her unique mark on the event. She sent out personalized emails, promoted the gathering on social media, offered registrants the opportunity to bring a friend or colleague at no charge, etc.
The night of the happy hour, Erin arrived early – with beautiful goodie bags for each guest. She artfully set them out, ensuring that the handles were turned in, that the gift tags were visible, that each one was displayed “just right.” She went around to ensure the tables were clean, the chairs pushed in, the window shades drawn to an appropriate and consistent height. Her attention to detail was significant. It felt special. Again, it was the little things… loads of little things… that transformed a simple wine bar into an elegant venue befitting special guests for a special occasion.
Both women don’t stop when the doors open on their events. They greet every guest – offering a warm smile, a handshake, sometimes a genuine embrace. They ask what they can do to be of service to the individual – to fill a drink, to make an introduction – so that everyone is made to feel like they belong, like they are special, like the event was created just for them… because it was.
In talking with Lauren and Erin, I have asked them why they pay so much attention to the small details. Lauren says she wants people to know that they are appreciated. She believes that by adding those little touches, what may have originally been a common, run of the mill experience into an elevated one. Erin explained that she does it out of respect – respect for the busy people who make it a priority to spend time at an event that she has created.
What actions do you take to elevate the experience? When you show up for a networking interaction, have you done your research to figure out what might be on the mind of your contact? Have you brought along a gift like a book recommendation, a referral, or the name of a great new restaurant? Take a moment to think about how you, too, can make the interaction special, memorable, and worthy of a follow-up. Your efforts, the little things will be noticed and appreciated. It will pay off for you for years to come.